Konnichiwa from Hokkaido!

Snowing

Brr…it’s a bone chilling -13 Celsius in Hokkaido right now. こんにちは! We’re here on our annual overseas trip and decided to book a room in a classic Japanese ryokan complete with kaiseki dinner for the first night. It’s been snowing non-stop since we arrived and the fresh powder makes it hard to walk around. I neglected to bring proper cold weather boots but at least my parka is very warm.

Sapporo Snow

It’s interesting to hear that getting a voice SIM card is practically impossible in Japan. You need to be a resident in order to get one. However, we managed to get a data SIM from the airport. Yup, you can buy almost anything from a vending machine in the Land of the Rising Sun. It’s JPY 3,000 (about RM 110) for 1 GB.

SIM Card Vending Machine

Another thing I love about Japan is that their combini (convenience stores) have a wide range of interesting and unusual snacks and food items. I have been to many 7-Eleven (called 7 & i Holdings here) and Lawson stores while we were here. It’s not very hard when you can find more than one in a block. I have taken to eating the onigiri when I want a quick bite.

Onigiri

Oh, and the density of vending machines is mind-boggling too. There’s more than two per city block as well and they pop up at the most random places. Here’s the one below our apartment in Hokkaido. You can get both hot AND cold drinks from them.

Vending-Machine

My favorite is corn pottage! smirk
(Yup, you can get savory drinks in cans here)

Corn Pottage

It’s still winter in Sapporo and the temperatures frequently drop below zero. The highest was -3 degrees Celsius and the lowest was -16 degrees Celsius when we arrived. That means the weather didn’t breach 0 degrees Celsius the entire day, needless to say a positive number! We’re having a lot of fun though, there’s nothing quite like having a hot onsen bath outdoors while the snow falls on you.

Japan

It feels amazing! :)

Snowball

I’ll blog again soon. Check out my Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook for live updates!

Posted: 7:37 pm Japan time (GMT/UTC +9)

Mt Buller Postmortem Part II

It has come to my attention that Vivien, my classmate from high school,
has set up a blog. You can visit her
here [blogspot.com]
and someone should tell her that she doesn’t need to do 100 push ups after
just eating 4 cookies. Heh. =D

Anyway, I had a one hour break today and decided to pop into the campus
bookshop with my film developing slip to see if it has been processed. I
was told to check in on Thursday and the price lists states that APS film
takes 6 working days to develop. Well, guess what? They were erring on the
side of caution, because it was already done today! Woo hoo.

The pictures didn’t turn all out well. There were only a couple of
good ones in the bunch. I was pretty impressed with the girth of the
photos though. I took most of them in the panoramic setting so they turned
out really long. It seems that APS film can be developed either in C
(normal size), H (sized like a 16:9 television) or P (panoramic). APS
seems to be a pretty interesting film format. I’ve heard about it before,
but didn’t really know the specifics. If you’re interested, have a read
through the summary of the format

here
[kodak.com].

Well, developing APS film wasn’t as expensive as I thought, but it’s not
cheap either. The processing costs for the 25 exposure roll cost me A$21.50. That comes with 2 index
prints and a Kodak Picture CD though. Added to the cost of the disposable
camera (A$25), that comes to nearly A$50. Tsk tsk…sounds slightly disturbing,
because I’m used to taking pictures with a digicam. Anyway, here are the
pictures from Mt Buller on the day my digicam had a near death experience.

A panoramic shot of me at the bottom of Blue Bullet 1 quad chairlift. This
picture was scanned from the prints.

Carving up the slopes. This picture is taken from the Kodak Picture CD.
The quality of the images in the CD is really bad, you can get much higher
resolutions by scanning in the pictures manually instead of getting a
Picture CD.

This is the friendly manager of YHA in Mt Buller.

Ripping the blue Summit run.

A really grainy shot of the village from the chairlift. A lot of the
pictures turned out badly because there was condensation on the lens of
the camera, and I didn’t realize it. Furthermore, a third of the pictures
have been slightly obstructed by my gloves. The viewfinder of disposables
are not exactly the most accurate things, because I could have sworn that
I see the glove in the viewfinder.

Read Mount Buller Part I.

Mt Buller Postmortem Part I

I just arrived back in Melbourne an hour ago, hurting all over. Heh. It
was a very good weekend, I got a lot of runs in and it was snowing every
day too.

It’s snowing!

I actually only skied 2 out of the 3 days I was there, because I
only arrived at 1:30 pm on the first day and couldn’t justify paying for a
full day lift ticket. I just walked around the village and slopes during
the first day because I could only check into YHA at 5 pm.

This is where I stayed.

I skied the second day and boarded on the third.

Skiing down Bourke Street.

It was pretty punishing
because I was really out of shape. Loved it though. =D I did a couple of
runs down Bourke Street (a green run) on the first day and then went down
the blue Shakey Knees run. I didn’t know it was a blue run until I was
halfway down, and thought…hey, this is pretty steep. I was enjoying
myself so much, I went into an aggressive alpine crouch to pick up speed
(woo hoo adrenaline rush) and wiped out towards the end in an effort to
avoid a stopped skier. Very nice run, but a bit embarrassing on the lift
up. It was a T-bar lift and I unconsciously sat down on the T-bar and
tipped it (I was riding alone) while it was going up an incline. Bourke
Street seems rather anti-climatic after that.

View from Blue Bullet 1 quad chair lift.

I did catch the Quiksilver
GP at night but couldn’t take any photos because it seems that my digicam
does not like snow. I put it into my pants while skiing and forgot to do
up the zip, and as a result, snow got into the pocket and got the digicam
wet. It won’t even start up after that, but after a day of drying out, it
can be started up and the view pictures function is still working and I
can still copy out the pictures, but some buttons seem to be disabled. Doh!
I should have done up my pants zipper but I must have forgotten after
taking it out to snap some photos. (Update – I just tried starting up
my digicam and everything works now. Damn, the Nikon 885 is one tough
motherfucker.
)

Blue Bullet 1 chair lift area.

Anyway, I got a disposable film camera on the second
day before I went boarding. Oh, one funny thing happened today. I went up
to the blue Summit run even though I’m not that good at boarding. I went
for a regular aligned board even though I’m a goofy on a skateboard. I was
carving up the slopes of the summit when the fog rolled in and I
accidentally went down a wrong run. I saw a black diamond flash past and
stopped near the Howqua black run. I had the choice of taking the Kofler’s
T-bar which goes up a steep incline (I do not like heights), taking a long
trek back up the blue Chute run or try to carve black Hawqua. If you’re
not familiar with the color codes, greens are easy runs, blues are for
intermediates and blacks are for experts only. I’ll rather go down black
diamond Hawqua
than take the T-bar up the steep Chute incline coz it will only take one look
down for me to piss my pants. Heh. The end of Hawqua wasn’t really hard
actually, but there are several hazards, including one steep turn that
only has netting between you and a drop down the slopes. I didn’t do too
good though, coz the powdery snow was pretty hard to navigate with my
board. I accidentally did a hard toe edge brake and started losing my
balance. I had the presence of mind to do an ollie to compensate for the
drift but ended up carving my toe edge straight into the power and I must
have flipped 5 meters and ended up face first in the snow. Oh boy…I
couldn’t stand up for a full minute. Heh. I had the wind knocked out of me
and I felt like I cracked a rib. That’s a nasty way to fall, I
reckon…falling ass first is okay, that’s not painful, but going face
first is pretty horrible. Anyway, that’s it for today. I have to wake up
at 7 am tomorrow for my ITPM group meeting. Stay tuned for Part II
tomorrow. I still have a bunch of pictures that’s not up from the
disposable film camera. I’m going to get it developed tomorrow.

Enjoying the fire in the main village.

Read Mount Buller Part II.

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